“Hard Work” — One Mantra to success…Meet Kamalini Paul– Managing Director, De Sovrani Hotel, Kolkata.
Ramdas Shenoyy in conversation with Ms. Kamalini — a responsible head on young 24 years old shoulders.
What is Entrepreneurship to you?
To me, Entrepreneurship is like being the gearbox to a car. While every machine in the car is equally vital for the car to move ahead, the pace and speed is decided by the gear.
Likewise, entrepreneurship is nothing on its own without the right team and skills. I believe a lot of my task is about assembling the right people together and managing the team’s strategy, motivation and goals smoothly.
I can have an idea, but how the idea is executed is very important too.
You started your entrepreneurial journey at a very young age, when life threw a challenge to you– what was the motivational force behind and your life’s philosophy?
Since childhood, I was known to be “an average kid”, who never excelled or failed at studies or extracurricular activities. There was nothing I was truly really brilliant in. But I grew up watching my father work hard and earn his position in society.
Thus, I believed the one mantra to success was hard work.
When I was bestowed the duty of carrying forward my family business, at the death of my father, I was only 20 years old. I did not have any innovative strategy, cost-cutting plans or great marketing ideas. The only thing I knew was I had to save the company and the work we did back then.
This is where I started my journey. Now when I look back, I knew absolutely nothing then but had interest and perseverance to prove everyone wrong that a ‘young girl her age cannot handle so much on her plate’. I worked endless hours and studied everything I could lay my hands on. Eventually, my experience became my greatest tool and soon people realized I was not just a lost girl at work.
How is the hospitality industry changing its skin?
In India, till a decade ago, the concept of a Hotel was directly related to “luxury and royalty”. Visiting a hotel meant a grand affair and was meant only for the rich.
With time, and the increase in disposal income among people; hotels started becoming accessible to a larger section of the society. Today, we see different types of hotels coming up and a wide variety of accommodation options available beyond just premiere hotels. Hotel prices have also become more flexible. Nowadays, you can find a stay depending not only on how much you are willing to spend but also on what experience you expect to derive from it. For the nature lover, there are eco stays, people who enjoy architecture can opt for artsy apartment stays, those looking for the cheap option can opt for a budget hotel room! Thus, it can be said that with time the concept of a hotel has expanded beyond only a luxurious affair.
What are the changing needs and expectations of today’s consumers?
With fast technology at hand, audience today have unlimited options, a lot of information yet have less time to dedicate to everything.
Thus, consumers today are more price sensitive, yet have more expectation from their stay. In an age of social media, everyone is looking for an experience that they can share with the world about.
With new age concepts like PODs will it have a place in tomorrow’s hotel business?
It is important to acknowledge here that there are two types of India today, one is the tier 2 cities like Patna, Bhubaneswar, etc. where people are learning but with a steady reservations for their traditions. On the other hand, the fast-moving big cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore where there are in a mixed population of foreigners, expats, professionals, and students are growing faster and are open to trying new things always!
Thus, modern concept hotels like PODS are already coming into play in these big cities where spacious hotel room prices are getting steeper every day.
On the other hand, POD hotels to be a fully accepted concept in smaller cities is still a challenge. One of the reasons is because hotel room prices in these smaller cities aren’t exorbitantly high as a tier 1 city, and thus travelers would still opt for a spacious room with service than a Pod room at only a small price difference.
How are you going to use the concept of Artificial Intelligence for your business or is it still a far-fetched idea?
The idea of incorporating Artificial Intelligence in any business is not farfetched at all in the 21st century. However, striking the right balance between human and computer is very important. One of the most vital tasks would be to create the right diversification of job roles for computers and humans: Repetitive mechanical tasks can be done by computers and human beings can focus on creative and cognitive thinking tasks. However, for this, employees have to accept the utilization of computers over the fear of being replaced by AI and that is still a very tricky thing to achieve.
What is your advice to young aspirants who want to embark on the journey of getting into a hotel industry?
Hospitality has one of the highest attrition rates among employees. This is because most young adults joining the industry, do not correctly assess the expectation from them.
In the hospitality world, we work every day, 365 days a year, around the clock. When the world celebrates festivals, we are at work, when everyone takes a holiday, we are still at work. Thus, young adults who expect a fancy world of excitement and glamour often fall short when they have to work hard endlessly for days. Thus, my advice to every young aspirant would be to ask yourself if you are truly up for the challenge of working long hours, being patient and accepting less for more in the first few years of your career to earn success in the long term.
What is your vision for De Sovrani?
De Sovrani is a prominent star category business hotel in Salt Lake, Kolkata. Last year, De Sovrani was awarded the Best Upscale Hotel, Kolkata by Go-MMT.
Our service and food are highly acclaimed and we host a number of events regularly. We have a rooftop poolside lounge which is highly preferred among the people of Kolkata. Thus, our vision for De Sovrani is to continue holding this position among the leading hotels of Kolkata and to continue striving towards excellence. We hope to serve more people and create more happy memories for the people who experience De Sovrani.
With India’s economy growing, business travelers increasingly look for easy stays where their basic needs of transport or meal taken care for. Our company is exploring budget hotel stays and is aiming to launch smart stays in the smaller business cities in the upcoming year.
What is the unique value that De Sovrani offers?
De Sovrani is an independent hotel brand in the market aiming to create an experience for everyone. SOur luxurious rooms with breakfast, dinner and 24*7 service come at a cost of less than Rs 4500!
All services from 24*7 coffee shop, housekeeping, room service, and bell boy are available just like a five-star hotel! The hotel hosts three food outlets, a rooftop swimming pool, and a fully functional gym. Thus, whether you want to relax, go for a meal with your loved ones or catch up for an after-work drink, at De Sovrani we have it all under one roof for you!!
What keeps you going? What are the other interests of Kamalini?
Having worked for four years now, at 24, I feel like I understand my work in-depth and am very excited to take on new challenges. Thus, what keeps me going is the wish to make a difference and be better than myself yesterday.
As a small city girl, it would be my ultimate
goal to put Bengal on the global business map
Although work keeps me busy around the clock, during my breaks I like to travel and have been to over 30 countries till date. I love dogs and hope to do something for street dogs someday very soon. I am also a fitness enthusiast and have training in equestrian and swimming. However, I dedicate most of my Sunday afternoon to reading and doing courses to improve myself as an entrepreneur!